City of Cambridge – Reimagining a citizen-centered civic brand experience
Steeped in tradition, Cambridge, Massachusetts, sets itself apart with its diverse cultural offerings in addition to a rich history of innovation and excellence across academia and industry. This project reimagines the brand experience for the 21st century.
Combining the local ecology with the built environment, we imagine unique spaces to invite locals and tourists alike to engage with the city and celebrate its rich history while progressing towards the future.
For six weeks, I worked on a project focused on reimagining the brand identity of Cambridge: developing concepts for a mobile app, welcome kit, and pop-up experience that engages with both residents and tourists alike.
- Physically branding Cambridge — The city of Cambridge needs you to refresh it’s brand so that it resonates with people today.
- Digitally branding Cambridge — Tourists are having trouble finding off the beaten path things to do in Cambridge.
- Civic Mindfulness — The city of Cambridge wants to translate your brand refresh into a mobile welcome experience.
Our goal was to develop a vision for the primary interaction touchpoints for residents and guests as they engage with the City in avenues that encompass both digital physical spaces and platforms, from a mobile app to a pop-up experience with a branded welcome kit.
To start off, I brainstormed 3 visual metaphors for the City of Cambridge. I chose a lightening bolt to signify the entrepreneurial spirit of the city, connected hands to represent authenticity of its diverse and multicultural offerings, and a graph to show interconnectivity of Cambridge to the rest of the world.
- How can the metaphor also encapsulate the emotion of the city?
- How can it show it’s constantly evolving, yet organic but futuristic?
- Can it represent something rough and urban yet relatable?
The logo is a geometric abstraction of the letter C, in an arrow, signifying movement towards the future. The shape also represents building blocks, in which the ends can meet and join together, like the bricks that characterize the brownstones of the local architecture. The logo also folds, like a book or laptop, symbolizing the legacy of research and scholarship so central to the city.
I chose the Erbaum font, one that has slabs and curves and edges to balance out the sharpness of the C logo. I’ve picked my color palette to consist of Cambridge Crimson — an homage to both schools on Mass Ave that share a similar shade of red — and Blue Optimism. Together, they pop, bouncing off each other, not losing its traditions and character of its past but also modernizing into the future.
The official tagline, “Our future starts here,” is a call to action to encourage a collaborative and collective mindset in pursuing the future of the world and where it all starts, right here in Cambridge.
- Successfully pitched and demoed the vision and concepts in a final presentation and critique with designers from EPAM Continuum (including the Head of Product Design)
- Conduct user research to understand what tourists and residents want out of a digital and physical popup experience
- Run usability studies on the app and popup kit to improve the user experience
- Ensure the experience enables people to spend time exploring and not on their phones
- Add support and help experiences with shortcuts to local resource information
- Think through edge cases and error handling (e.g. offline mode, navigation with GPS)
- Improve sustainability of the digital and physical experiences
- Divergent brainstorming can offer lots of different ideas, but it’s valuable to figure out how to hone in on a few successful concepts and converge on a final idea, even if it’s just an iteration
- It’s challenging to design for everyone - start with one persona but think about others as well throughout the process
- Communicating the vision and concept can be as (or more) important than the idea itself